Channing Frye Embarks On The Toughest Challenge Of His Life

PHOENIX - DECEMBER 15: Channing Frye #8 of the Phoenix Suns awaits a free throw shot during the NBA game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at US Airways Center on December 15 2010 in Phoenix Arizona. The Suns defeated the Timberwolves 128-122. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

When it comes to player health it is of the utmost importance to take all the precautions necessary. The stakes are much different when it becomes about life and death, which is the case with Channing Frye.

With a somber look on his face, Channing Frye walked to the make-shift conference room to talk in more detail about the suddenness of a virus that has rocked his and the Suns for the upcoming season.

Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby flanked Frye at the table opening up with genuine remorse over what is happening to his employees, and more important to a member of his family here with the team. Lon, consistently, leaned over to Frye with a pat and a whisper to make sure he was ok or if he wanted to continue. About 20 feet away Jared Dudley looked on with fresh sweat coming out of a workout and his practice gear on -- he wasn't going to miss the opportunity to support his teammate and friend.

Little to the crowd's knowledge former Suns forward Grant Hill was also in the back lending his support as all the attention was on Frye.

Despite the aura in the room of a player telling the world he has a health condition -- not an injury -- that will keep him off the court for the foreseeable future. The term "indefinitely" is a broad stroke, but when you are talking potential life or death it is the right course of action. Frye will miss this season due to the dilated cardiomyopathy found in a routine NBA offseason physical.

"You have to give credit to the NBA," said Babby about catching this during the offseason. "I'd like to take credit for it from the Suns standpoint, but this is really an NBA protocol. It's about making sure players are healthy when they get on the court and we are very, very fortunate that we had the information we needed before it became catastrophic."

Those cautionary tales of Jeff Green, Chuck Hayes, Willie Cager, as well as the most extreme situation, which was Hank Gathers.

"When we see patients with dilated cardiomyopathy, with heart muscles that have increased size and diminished in function there is a whole host of potential causes," said Team Cardiologist Tim Byrne. "At the end of the day the most likely cause of this is a virus and many times those do improve." When asked about the chances of a full recovery, Byrne responded that the "chance is better than not."

There is a very good chance that this virus subsides and is gone in 90 days when the next check-up is scheduled for Frye, but also a chance that this lingers. In the mean time Frye has the rare opportunity to take a year off of basketball to focus on his health, rehabbing his shoulder, and more importantly spending time with his family that includes a wife and two children ages two and four months.

For the Suns it is back to business. After a tough situation happens in any family you address it, resolve it, and then get back to business as usual. Frye knows that as he stated he will be involved, but not to the point where he is getting in the way:

""I told Lon and the team that I was going to soak it up over the weekend and really see. For me I like to be involved and I like being part of the guys, but at the same time I have to let them have their own chemistry. I don't think traveling a lot is going to be in the cards, but being there to help some of the younger guys and see my friends, Jared (Dudley) and some of the older guys."

The team now looks to fill the void that is the teams' fifth leading scorer (10.5 per game) from last season and a versatile weapon on offense. His loss is even bigger from a leadership standpoint.

It will be difficult to replace Frye at this point in free-agency, but they may have already completed that process with the summer signings of Jermaine O'Neal, Luis Scola, and Michael Beasley. All three can play the four where O'Neal can switch to the five as well. All will be leaned on to fill the void as well as second year forward Markieff Morris.

Morris has a little bit of that Frye, Rasheed Wallace, stretch-four to his game where having a mentor on the sidelines like Channing may help his game a lot.

Adding another player will be tough because the Suns are not over the cap which means they cannot push for a roster exemption for Frye even though he is likely going to miss the entire season. The status quo is going to have to bear the load for the season unless something dramatic comes to fruition, but Babby, as Babby always does, said nothing like that is on the mind of the team.

Today was a long, insightful day for the Frye family, the Suns family, the fans, and basketball everywhere reminding us that these are people just like us and health is the game that matters the most in terms of wins and losses.

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